The Bengaluru incident served as a scary reminder that no matter what 'precautions' we take, women will never be safe. From little ones who are a few months old to senior citizens who're in their 60s, women of all ages have been molested, brutally raped and stripped off of their honour, time and again. 

Photographer Arjun Kamath has shed light on various issues through his beautiful photo stories. While the 'Colour Of Our Skin' talked about our obsession with fair skin, 'Avani' told the story about a fight against patriarchal structures, and 'Coming Out' talked about a beautiful relationship. This time, Arjun tells a story that'll haunt you as you patiently read through it. But in the end, it'll give you exactly what you've always wanted secretly. 

So go ahead, read the story. 

Warm droplets of blood tumbled and splashed onto the ruddy ground, creating a trail as they dragged little Krishna through the dried patches of what were once water holes.
Darpad, Kavi, Hari and Kanja are young men from Ambavati, a little town in central India; all four are in the prime of their lives—but have little or no interest in academics and lack a sense of purpose. Hailing from affluent families, they resort to mischief to pass their time—often at the cost of others. The men, all in their mid-twenties, missed classes by the dozen and skipped their exams, too. As a result, they had no option but to lavishly bribe the college authorities in return for good marks. Instead of studying, they spend their days lounging outside the local Ambavati temple, sometimes chasing stray dogs by pelting stones at them, and once even setting fire to the local priest’s scooter. Since Ambavati was a small town, the temple was at its heart and was the centre of activity, which made it a good vantage point for them to pass their time. But their misdemeanours did not end with stray dogs and scooters: On days when they had nothing exciting to do, they harassed the young women who walked in and out of the temple by passing lewd remarks, making the lives of these innocent people a living hell.
As the years passed, the men’s hunger for drama increased, as simple mockery failed to inflate their egos the way it used to. The temple elders turned a blind eye to their misdemeanours, calling them harmless pranksters, even though the authorities knew that their actions routinely went far beyond youthful hijinks. Kavi’s father, Sikander Gagan, was a powerful politician in town, as well as being a trustee of the Ambavati temple. The locals believed that it was Sikandar who got Jayankara, his political rival, murdered in broad daylight a couple of years ago. Although there was no factual proof to support the claims, it was beyond evident that the cold blooded murder that took place right in the middle of town could have only been Sikandar’s doing; and all this just so he could discourage anyone else from running against him.
The previous night, Durga had sensed her husband’s anxiety and told him that she wanted to go to the temple before he went to work to pray for him. Therefore, the next morning, she woke up very early to cook a special meal for Adil’s lunch. However, an anxious Adil was ready to leave even earlier than planned. He checked on Durga to see if his lunchbox was ready, but she still hadn’t packed it. Uncharacteristically Adil lost his cool and screamed at Durga that if he lost the job, it would be due to her. Little did he know that it was taking so long because she was preparing his favourite dish—pongal.
On this new day, a fresh, gentle breeze caressed Durga’s skin. As she walked down the steps to enter the century-old Ambavati temple, Durga thought that it seemed even more deserted and lonely than usual at this early hour.
Kanja, who was two steps behind Hari, tried to pull him away but it was too late. Hari was the most short-tempered and impulsive of the four boys, and nobody in Ambavati had spoken to him like that, not even Sikandar Gagan. Durga and Adil were new to Ambavati, and therefore they were unaware of these four boys and their questionable activities. As she looked at Adil’s prasada strewn on the ground, her eyes became moist. Durga was the kind of woman who would often swallow her retort, smile and move on. However, today was different. She hadn’t had the best start to the day because of her fight with Adil, and now it had only gotten worse, with these men colliding into her. What if she had fallen down and something had happened to her baby? Another miscarriage? No! Never! All these disturbing thoughts and the built up rage that came with them consumed all that she was.
She looked up at Hari, her moist eyes now blazing with anger. ‘You’re lucky nothing happened to my baby…’ she warned, her body shaking with rage.
As Hari closed in on Durga, she stumbled backwards only to collide with Kanja, who had crept up from behind like a serpent and was now wielding a huge knife. ‘How dare you?’ She screamed as she turned to look at Kanja, but before she could even move an inch, a furious Hari had grabbed her face in his strong hand and spun it around, almost dislocating her jaw. ‘Shut your mouth or he’ll stick that knife right through your stomach!’ he threatened, gesturing with his eyebrows to Kanja, who now held the knife inches from Durga’s pregnant belly.
She tried to push him away, but nothing seemed to work. ‘Ah! She likes to fight!’ He smiled showing his crooked teeth, while Kanja got closer, making sure she had no way to escape. Hari’s searching hands crept up her chest slowly and nipped at her tender skin. Her skin bruised so easily, she knew it would make a mark. It seemed like Hari knew it too. ‘You won’t mess with Hari again, right?’ he said menacingly, as they began taking turns groping her. Durga stood there silently, stifling a million screams in her tiny heart. ‘I didn’t hear you! You won’t mess with Hari again, right?’ he screamed, squeezing her chest with his coarse fingers.
By now Durga was emotionally drained, and all she hoped for was that they wouldn’t hurt her baby. Seeing her beg and weep gave Hari and Kanja the ego boost they needed. They had been irritable for the last couple of days, particularly after Mr. Pradhan had denied them their exam hall tickets. To add fuel to the fire, Durga had called them blind idiots! A woman had insulted them! A stupid pregnant woman, and they were going to make her pay for it. Hari had always been like a ticking time bomb. Always. Any provocation, no matter how small or insignificant and his temper would flare. 
As Durga started walking out, Krishna, an 8-year-old girl stood at the far end of the temple courtyard. Krishna was at the temple to seek the Lord’s blessings for her last exam at school that day. Having finished her prayers, she had just stepped out of the temple hallway. She hadn’t seen Durga being hurt or molested, but it was beyond evident that Durga was extremely upset. Little Krishna’s heart ached as she saw Durga’s tears wet the ground. Why was she crying? Was it because of these two men? There were a lot of unanswered questions. Yet, Krishna felt a strange connection with Durga. She wished she could run to her and give her a big hug, but she felt intimidated by the two men who stood in the way.

***No animals were harmed while making this image***

Relieved that they had spared her baby, Durga left the temple immediately, but not before uttering a quick prayer to the Almighty. As soon as she had left, Hari and Kanja rushed into the temple looking for Mr Pradhan, but he was nowhere to be found. Where was Pradhan? Had Velu lied to them? Irritated and angry, Hari and Kanja stomped out of the temple and joined Darpad and Kavi, who were waiting outside.
A furious Kavi walked closer to the puppy and pulled out his lighter. ‘All because of this damned puppy! Why don’t we burn your face, little bitch?’ asked Kavi, with a sadistic grin, swinging the lighter wildly near the puppy’s face.
This wasn’t the first time the boys had been cruel to an innocent animal. In fact, watching an innocent animal squealing and crying for its life was more like a routine ritual to them, and they derived sadistic pleasure from it. They felt powerful as they towered over the little puppy and kicked it, hard. Each time the puppy tried to run, they burst into laughter, sticking the lighter right into its face. The boys saw no difference between the pregnant Durga and the puppy. They had both begged for their lives, and that’s what mattered to them.
Meanwhile, Darpad and Kavi were having the time of their lives torturing the little puppy.
The festival season had just come to an end in Ambavati, and Krishna had saved a few firecrackers. She had brought them with her that morning to set off with her school friends after their last exam. However, when she happened to see the boys torturing the puppy, the desperate and quick-witted Krishna decided to use the last of her crackers to distract them. She lit the firecrackers next to the boys’ bikes and then hid behind the temple wall.
‘You messed with the wrong people!’ howled an infuriated Darpad, his face reddening with rage.
Krishna’s eyes darted to either side, as she took a steep turn and ran into one of the most desolate gullies of Amabavati; the world passed by in a blur of green and yellow. Krishna wasn’t stopping for anything, and she sure as hell wasn’t going to give up—come what may. The way Darpad, Kavi, Kanja and Hari had looked at Krishna was as if the devil itself had come to the streets; their eyes had shown only hatred, no fear. However, as the chase ensued, it seemed like as if Krishna’s tiny legs were made to run as they sliced through the air gracefully like the paws of a lioness. Now, with her breathing a little steadier and heart strong, Krishna didn’t slow down. She kept looking back, but that didn’t affect her strides, which only got bigger and quicker as she started to calm down. The heat and humidity of Ambavati made her feel sticky and suffocated, but she knew she couldn’t stop. Her clothes and hair, slick with perspiration, clung to her skin. “I’m so sorry!” she gasped as she swatted her way through a cloud of dragonflies, almost wanting to stop and see if she had hurt any. Thick, salty beads of sweat rolled down her skin, and little Krishna didn’t know where she was—nor did she know where she was heading. She could hear and feel was her tiny heart thudding against her chest.
The boys had chased Krishna for a good ten minutes, and, despite having closed in on her several times, she always seemed to quicken her pace at the right moments, not thinking twice before bolting into the more isolated gullies and lanes of Ambavati. As the men went after her, Krishna covered the uneven road with long quick strides that infuriated Darpad even more. “I’ll skin you alive, you whore!” he shouted as he quickened his pace. She was only a little girl, after all! A girl! Were her ankles made of tightly coiled springs rather than sinew and bone? Nah, it would only be a matter of time before the little whore got exhausted and begged for her life, Darpad assured himself.
However, Darpad was never known to play fair. As Krishna took a steep turn into another long, isolated lane, Darpad grinned, showing his yellowed teeth amongst the stubble; his eyes grew wider than any sane person’s should. Hate and enmity welled up in his heart, fury itself burning him up as he stopped briefly and picked up a jagged stone from the corner of the road and aimed it at Krishna. “Let me see how fast you can run!” he threatened. It had been a while since Krishna had turned around to look at the men, and that had been exactly the moment Darpad was waiting for… for her to turn around, just so he could dent her tiny face with the ragged stone that was waiting to leave his hand.
Kavi, Kanja and Hari surrounded Darpad as he tiptoed on the road, waiting anxiously for little Krishna to turn around. The boys, who had constantly hurled abuse at her until now, had gone quiet all of a sudden. Little did she know that they had done so on purpose, to trick her into turning back to look at them. As she darted ahead, she started to wonder if the boys were actually still following her. Why couldn’t she hear them anymore? Had she evaded them? The sudden silence seemed eerily unnatural to her. Unable to calm her nerves, she spun around quickly to check on the boys.
However the moment she turned around, she saw Darpad chucking something towards her. Before she could even react, she felt an intense pain pulsate through her head. ‘Am-Amma!’ she gasped as she dropped to the ground in pain. ‘You filthy whore!’ Darpad said, and he grinned as he saw Krishna fall. The moment she had turned to look back, the huge stone had left Darpad’s hand with extreme force, catching Krishna just above her left eye and making a deep gash. The sharp pain lanced through her head and colourful spots flashed in front of her eyes as her warm blood splattered onto the road. She held her hand to the wound tightly, but no matter how much pressure she applied, the blood still gushed between her fingers and ran down her tiny arm.
Despite the excruciating pain, she knew she needed to get out of there... away from these boys. Seeing Krishna lying on the ground helplessly brought big smiles to their faces. ‘Why don’t you get up and run?’ mocked Kavi as he high-fived Darpad, who was now laughing like a child high on candy. When Krishna raised her other eye and peered up at the boys, she realized she didn’t have much time. ‘N-no! No…’ she stammered as the boys started closing in on her. As she tried to rise to her feet the pain amplified, her body quivered and her consciousness ebbed. Black mists swirled at the edges of her mind, but she didn’t want to give up. She couldn’t. She’d rather die fighting than surrender to these dastardly boys!
Krishna wanted to quell the hammering in her chest, but she didn’t know how. Despite her attempts to stop the blood flow with her tiny hands, her blood pressure kept dropping, making her feel nauseated and dizzy. While in her strong mind, she had already started to run away from the boys; physically, she still lay there on the road, helpless, battling the enormity of the pain like an abandoned cub. As the men closed in, the saliva in her mouth thickened to a rancid paste, and her eyes started to tear up. She had to get up and run—NOW! One second more and it would be too late. Even though her brain had shut down, she somehow managed to rise. Her eyes were wide, as if someone was coming to deliver the fatal blow. What she saw, no one else could see. She saw four hungry wolves waiting to devour her; with every drop of blood she lost, the wolves felt more powerful. ‘You have nowhere to go!’ mocked Darpad as he closed in on Krishna. The moment she heard his voice, her watery eyes widened even more, and the hair on the back of her neck bristled. 
A gaggle of goose pimples laminated her naked skin as she forced her trembling legs to move. ‘She thinks she can escape!’ jeered Kavi as he saw her struggling to move her aching feet and with her hand still pressed against her left eye. Helpless and weak, Krishna tried to scream for help as struggled to stand up, but the inside of her mouth lacked any moisture and a guttural croak was all that was emitted. Starved for air, her heart raced at a tremendous speed and her lungs rose and fell deeply in time. The men looked on in astonishment as little Krishna rose and started to run again! She had no choice. The men who had been mocking her realized that, once again, she had prevailed over them. Their satisfaction and security were distant memories now. As she darted ahead, she felt invisible forces crushing her from every direction. Each second submerged in fear left a permanent mark on her trembling heart, and her vivid imagination often made her wonder whether it was just her mind playing tricks on her or reality. But the constant flow of warm blood from her forehead reminded her that this was far from an imaginary situation—this was real, as real as it could get.
Seeing little Krishna pick up her pace, the boys, who had been complacent, started to get flustered. Darpad turned to the boys and said in an assuring tone, his eyes widening, ‘She won’t be able to run very far…’ Looking at Krishna’s blood on the street, Kavi mocked, ‘Oooo, she bled like a pregnant bitch! I wonder where all that blood came from?’ Hari and Kanja grinned. Kanja added, ‘She’ll collapse any moment!’ ‘Into my loving arms!’ Hari guffawed as the boys quickened their pace and went after her. As Krishna continued to run, a sadness seeped into her eyes, a heaviness, an unyielding sorrow that slowed her mind; yet, she continued to run. The excruciating pain had made her weak, but it had failed to slow her legs. Krishna had stopped trying to make sense of what was happening; desperate and helpless, Krishna darted ahead and ran into a tiny house at the edge of the street whose door was flung open. ‘Help me!’ she screamed as she ran through the dark and unfamiliar door. However, the boys had seen her enter the house, and they weren’t going to stop.
In the house, she straightaway rushed for what seemed like the back entrance. She didn’t want to waste even a single second asking for help or trying to look for people in the house; those few extra seconds lost could cost her, her life and Krishna couldn’t take a chance. Knowing that she didn’t have much time to make her escape, she quickened her pace and bolted towards the back entrance. Meanwhile, the boys had entered through the front door. ‘She’s rushing towards the back door!’ Kavi screamed as he saw Krishna run. Kanja, who was right behind Kavi, turned towards Hari and Darpad, ‘We can stay inside. You both go around to the back!’ They nodded in agreement and started running.
In the meantime, Krishna had kicked open the back door and run into the backyard, but not before latching the door from the outside. Within a few seconds, she heard Hari jeer menacingly, ‘Someone’s going to die soon. I wonder who?’ to which Darpad responded, ‘I can’t wait to hammer the first nail into her skull!’ With one hand pressing against her forehead Krishna tiptoed toward a shed covered in blue tarpaulin and hid behind it. “They’re going to kill me…” she thought as warm tears dripped down her pale cheeks.
Krishna was now breathing hard, but the moment she heard the men she tried to avoid making a single sound. Each second seemed to last forever, but she stood perfectly still in the little shed in the relatively small backyard. As the men got closer, her breathing became erratic, deep, and then shallow; but she fought it. She fought the feeling as her body writhed to be free or shut down entirely. Each time her body moved a part of her got stronger, learning how to cope, and a part of her became weaker.
Despite the ambient temperature, her skin was icy as all her remaining blood was being diverted to her vital organs. That’s when a final burst of adrenaline kicked in, with such force that her legs exploded into violent motion. She couldn’t take a chance! She had to run! She darted across the backyard in the opposite direction from where the men’s voices were coming, jumped over the little compound wall, and slipped into the back lane. On hearing her rapid footsteps, Hari and Darpad spun around quickly and saw Krishna’s green skirt as she disappeared over the wall. ‘There she is.’ Darpad said casually, with the confidence of a king who had won a battle. ‘Let’s get her!’ Hari said excitedly.
In the meantime, Kanja and Kavi had broken the back door of the house, which Krishna had latched from the outside, and now followed Darpad and Hari, who had already started running after her. Krishna couldn't formulate a thought. So far all of her actions had only led to more pain, and she started to fear that there was no way out of this. She glanced at the houses around her as she rushed ahead down the empty lane, tears running freely from her eyes. No doors were open, and there wasn’t a single person in sight. Helpless and desperate, she screamed at the top of her lungs, as she spun around wildly, ‘Please help… please!’ But not a single door or window opened. She screamed again, ‘Please help me… they want to kill me, please!’ But still nobody responded, and not a single door opened. As she heard the boys’ footsteps closing in, she rushed to the nearest door and started pounding on it with her bare hands. ‘Open the door!’ she cried, but there was no response from the other side. Kanja, Kavi, Darpad, and Hari were now standing only a few feet away from her. They were closing in on Krishna with big grins on their faces.
Krishna ran from house to house crying for help, but nobody opened their doors for her. People peered through the windows, saw the four boys in the distance and immediately shut their curtains in a panic. Not once did it occur to them that a little girl could die if they didn’t help her. They were only concerned with protecting themselves. Darpad, Kavi, Kanja and Hari were wealthy, well connected and politically influential. Taking them on would be asking for trouble. Nobody in Ambavati had won against them before, and it was widely believed that nobody could.
After pounding desperately on four doors, Krishna realized that nobody was going to help her, no matter how many doors she tried or how loudly she begged. With every door she approached, she lost precious time, allowing the men to inch closer to her.
With her eyes squeezed closed and her face contorted, she immediately pushed against the hard ground with her tiny hands, trying to get to her feet. Never had she experienced so such pain, but she had to keep moving! The partially blind old man failed to see the men approaching and rushed to Krishna’s aid. As the old man moved closer to Krishna, Hari screamed, ‘You old sod, stay away . . . or I’ll enter that house of yours and kill your family!’ The old man was quick to realize that these were the Ambavati boys who were after the little girl. Overcome with panic, the old man crumpled to the ground and started apologizing to the men who were a few hundred feet away.
Just as her eyes were about to close, she saw a little puppy run across the street. Their eyes locked for a brief moment, and Krishna watched the puppy run into a thicket of bushes. Seeing the puppy immediately triggered images of what had happened that morning. The boys had attacked a puppy outside the Ambavati temple, poking it with sticks, burning its face with a lighter and wounding it with a knife. The more Krishna thought about how they had tortured that innocent animal, the more irate she got. However, the pain from the wound on her head was like an icy wind choking the breath from her lungs and forming a noose around her neck. Its savage, bitter blasts cut right to her bones and gripped her brain with its freezing claws. And yet, she couldn’t get the puppy out of her mind. The more she thought of the events of that morning, the less pain she felt. How could anyone hurt an innocent animal? Or inflict harm on a pregnant woman? These boys were ruthless beasts, and if she gave up now, it would be like surrendering to the devil.
As she looked at the puddle of her blood on the ground and heard the boys’ distant chuckles, a burning rage pulsated through her body igniting a form of wanton violence. She was like a volcano, fury erupting from her in ferocious waves. The wrath within her consumed Krishna, engulfing her morality and destroying the boundaries of her behaviour. She leapt to her feet, picked up the glass bottle that she had tripped on, and flung it at the men with full force.
The glass bottle that Krishna threw hit Kanja just above his left eye, cutting his flesh as if it posed no resistance. Immediately a fountain of red erupted from the wound, the ebb and flow in time with his terrified heartbeat. The sharp edge of the broken bottle end had penetrated his forehead with great force, nearly pulling out a vein, and severing it in two. Blood gushed relentlessly from his forehead, as if his own heart sought to pump it from his body. Darpad, Hari and Kavi now stood still, completely taken aback by Krishna’s sudden surge of courage. Seeing the pool of dark red blood on the ground, they briefly lost their train of thought. 
What had just happened? Somewhat shaken, they stared at little Krishna with wide eyes as she darted ahead, while their friend continued to bleed incessantly from his forehead. The pulsating pain licked up Kanja’s forehead like scorching fire, forcing him to let out a violent scream. ‘Slit her throat!’ he urged. Darpad, Kavi and Hari realerted themselves to the present situation and rushed after Krishna. Not only had she repeatedly damaged their egos, now she had also physically hurt one of them, grievously, almost blinding him. Despite the excruciating pain, Kanja followed behind his friends as they chased after Krishna, jabbing the air repeatedly with a pointed finger, his eyes narrowed and hard set. ‘You filthy whore, you’ll pay for this!’ He howled, swaying forward, clutching his left eye with his palm to stop the blood-flow... Nobody had attacked the Ambavati boys before, but Krishna, an eight-year-old girl had just changed that forever.
Krishna had been running for a good twenty minutes now, since striking Kanja’s head with the bottle. With her lungs on fire she darted towards what seemed like the edge of the town, her eyes now wide with fear, and only the rush of adrenaline propelling her forward. With screams locked in her throat, she kept turning back to check on the men, who were now just a few feet away from her. The Ambavati boys were coming, Hari, Darpad, Kavi and the injured Kanja, all four of them… and they were determined to get her, come what may!
She could hear their heavy steps pounding the ground, and their infuriated groans only grew louder with each passing minute. ‘She just passed the last house in town!’ Hari said in a menacing tone as he high-fived Kavi. ‘I want to douse the bitch in kerosene and burn her alive! Let’s see who saves her now!’ growled Kanja, still clutching his injured forehead. Although Krishna was engulfed in a sea of panic, she kept running forward while deliberately turning a deaf ear to their constant threats. She had to, or she could lose her focus and trip! No, she wasn’t going to let that happen!
With every step Krishna took her body became weaker, yet she ploughed through all her fears and kept fighting. She had lost a lot of blood due to the injury on her head, and it felt like every muscle in her body was now limp, and giving in to gravity. Although her mind told her to fight, her legs succumbed to fatigue and slowed down as if they were no longer part of her body. As the men inched closer, sweat trickled down her back, free-flowing like condensation on a windowpane, beading on her forehead and dripping from her chin. ‘Forgive me!’ she pleaded as she looked at Hari, Darpad, Kavi and Kanja, who were now just a few feet away. She couldn’t run any further, and had started to feel dizzy because of the harsh sun that pounded on her skull ruthlessly. Unknowingly, in her state of panic she had crossed the Ambavati border, and now there were no houses in sight and not a single soul she could reach out to for help.
Hari’s lips melted into a wry smile when he saw that Krishna had stopped running. ‘Is anyone around? Please help the little girl, she's tired!’ he mocked loudly, his lecherous eyes boring straight into Krishna’s blood-soaked face. With his hands on his hips, Hari scanned the surrounding empty wasteland. ‘Is anyone around? Hello?’ he grinned. It was the kind of grin that was so wide that it looked like he couldn’t wait to gnaw on little Krishna’s tender flesh. ‘It's a pity we don't have an audience!’ Hari said, throwing his arms up in the air. ‘Right?’ he asked, as he turned to face Kavi, Darpad and Kanja, who were right behind him.
The boys surrounded Krishna from all sides, ensuring that there was no way she could escape. Hari pulled the alcohol bottle from this back pocket and Kavi got out his lighter. Kanja gripped Krishna’s face firmly. ‘You almost blinded me, you filthy whore!’ he growled. But Krishna was surprisingly calm. Her tense expression soon melted into that of knowing. Like she knew what was happening all along.
Despite the constant blood-flow from the wound above her left eye, Krishna’s eyes were now emitting a calm stare that almost froze Kanja’s bones, as if he were nude in the middle of a hailstorm, and every chunk of ice was a frosted dagger cutting into his skin. ‘Keep your eyes down!’ Kanja screamed. But instead of looking down Krishna looked straight into his eyes. ‘Keep your eyes down you whore!’ He warned again, crushing her jaw in his stony hand. Despite the immense pain that Kanja was inflicting on Krishna, she stood calmly amidst the four boys as if she felt no pain at all. Then, looking straight at the wound on Kanja’s head, she said softly ‘I gave you many chances… didn’t I?’
This took the men by surprise. ‘She’s lost her mind!’ guffawed Hari as he opened the alcohol bottle. ‘She needs some cleansing!’ said Kavi as he winked at Darpad, who had grabbed Krishna by the arm. As the boys circled around Krishna, she widened her eyes and turned to look at Darpad, who has digging is fingers into her flesh. ‘I gave you all so many chances, but you never listened…’ she said, her eyes now turning moist.

The men had sinned before, several times, but today was different. The sky above had curdled into a mass of grey clouds, and instead of letting small shafts of light through they emitted a crimson glow. The men jeered at Krishna's bloody face, but in doing so they had made their biggest mistake. What was to come would change the temple town of Ambavati forever.

‘Stop!’ Krishna hissed, as Hari started pouring the alcohol over her head. However, her words only heightened his primal instincts, and he continued pouring the alcohol. ‘Stop? Oh, maybe you’d prefer it if we got your clothes out of the way instead?’ he jeered, caressing her face with his coarse hand. Darpad immediately plucked the knife from his pocket. ‘Let’s get them out of the way then’ he grinned, as he reached over to cut the buttons from Krishna’s blouse.
Somewhat overwhelmed by the quick turn of events, Kanja and Kavi tried to grab Krishna by the head but it was too late. The moment she turned to the sky, the wind began to scream and the trees bent and moaned under its wrath. A powerful gust of wind formed icy tentacles as if it had a mind of its own, and literally crushed Kavi and Kanja with its force, while the coarse sand that now danced in the air entered their eyes, almost blinding them. ‘Don’t let her go!’ Kavi cried, struggling to keep his eyes open. ‘Argh! I can’t see anything!’ cried Kanja as he swung his arms wildly, struggling to protect his face from the coarse sand that was now stinging him like a swarm of bees.
As the powerful wind circled and howled above, Hari momentarily lost track of where Krishna was. As more sand rose up into the air, the boys stumbled about involuntarily, trying to form a huddle, hoping that it would prevent the raging dust from entering their eyes. But with each passing minute the wind only grew stronger, and more and more dust and sand rose into the air, reducing visibility to almost zero.
Dark red blood gushed from Hari’s mouth in spurts, and oozed freely into the spaces between Krishna’s fingers. His vision became blurrier as his once blue shirt turned darker, and all he could see was the scarlet blood that had flowed in his veins. With each drop of blood his life was slowly ebbing away, leaving him paler and weaker. ‘But I won’t let you die’ Krishna said firmly, as she looked at the dark stream that dripped from his mouth. ‘Not so easily…’ she added before kicking him squarely in the chest like he was an insignificant piece of muck.
But little did Darpad know that Krishna was standing right behind him, her eyes now glued to the back of his head. ‘I’m right here’, she said softly as she tapped him on the shoulder.
As Darpad turned around, Krishna’s arm flew towards him as she effectively smashed his face into the earth, shattering his teeth. ‘Skin me alive?’ she screamed as she surveyed his broken teeth scattered on the ground. ‘Do it!’ she challenged as she kicked his bruised face with disdain and marched over to Kanja and Kavi who were struggling to get to their feet. Krishna’s fiery eyes bored into their faces which were now covered in dirt, ‘You don’t deserve to live!’ she howled, grabbing their heads and slamming them together, ripping apart the soft flesh on their foreheads. Scarlet blood surged from their wounds and spilled onto the ground as they collapsed at her feet without resistance.
As the evening sun painted the sky red, the boys crawled through the bloody mess, desperately trying to make sense of what had just happened. They did not yet realize that Krishna had deliberately led them away from Ambavati beyond the edge of the town.

But who was Krishna? Why was she walking away?

Although the oppressive heat beat down on the wasteland like the breath of hell, Kavi, who was semi-conscious, was desperate to find out who Krishna was. He wondered how a little girl could possibly have so much strength.
‘Am-It’s Ammah!’ Kanja cried, raising his hands. When Kavi looked ahead closely, he saw a woman with freely flowing hair, her eyes as red as the setting sun. With each passing minute, the sound of the distant chant grew louder.

Did it give you what you secretly wanted? I think it did. 

Note: The story is still in progress and the climax yet to be revealed. 

Text and pictures have been used after permission from the photographer.